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As promised, Microsoft announced that it has added full trackpad and mouse support for the iPadOS version of Microsoft 360. That includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, marking another important step in Apple’s longstanding push to blur the line between tablet and desktop, making iPads more well-rounded productivity machines. Apple laid the foundation back in March, with the release of iPadOS 13.4. Announced alongside the latest iPad Pro, the technology introduced the ability to pair a trackpad or mouse with the tablet, bringing an on-screen cursor. Romain breaks it down more fully here. Along with the new tablet and operating system upgrade came a new (pricey) keyboard sporting a built-in trackpad. Image Credits: Microsoft Today’s upgrade from Microsoft builds on that, offering a more desktop-like experience when using its productivity tools on the latest iPad, iPad Pro and iPad Air. It can be used for standard Office things, like highlighting text, selecting range cells in Excel and resizing graphics. Stuff that was possible before, but will definitely benefit from an approach more familiar to anyone who’s used to doing these things on a laptop/desktop. The update brings a handful of other additions, including a clearer interface and newly organized menus. All should be rolling out to users “within a couple of weeks,” per Microsoft. Apple announces new iPad Pro

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Facebook gets into cloud gaming while continuing its public dispute with Apple, Ant Group prepares for a massive IPO and Pinterest embraces iOS widgets. This is your Daily Crunch for October 26, 2020. The big story: Facebook launches cloud gaming service Facebook is launching a cloud gaming service of its very own, although the focus is different from Google’s Stadia or Microsoft’s xCloud. Rather than trying to recreate the console experience on other devices, the social network’s gaming service is limited to mobile games, particularly on reducing the friction between seeing an ad for a game and playing the game. The service is launching on the web and on Android, but it’s not available on iOS. Facebook blamed Apple’s App Store terms and conditions for the absence. Facebook’s Jason Rubin told TechCrunch that Apple’s rules for cloud gaming service present “a sequence of hurdles that altogether make a bad consumer experience.” The tech giants Twitter will show all U.S. users warnings about voting misinfo and delayed election results — Starting today, Twitter users in the U.S. will see two large notices at the top of their feeds that aim to “preemptively debunk” misinformation related to voting. Ant Group could raise as much as $34.5B in IPO in what would be world’s largest IPO — The long-anticipated IPO of Alibaba-affiliated Chinese fintech giant Ant Group could raise tens of billions of dollars in a dual-listing on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges. Pinterest’s new widget brings photos from favorite boards to your iOS 14 home screen — As iPhone owners began customizing their iOS 14 home screens with new widgets and custom icons, Pinterest iOS downloads and searches surged. Startups, funding and venture capital Tencent leads $100M Series B funding round into China-based esport provider VSPN — Founded in 2016, VSPN was one of the early pioneers in esports tournament organization and content creation out of Asia. Linktree raises $10.7M for its lightweight, link-centric user profiles — The Melbourne startup says that 8 million users, including celebrities like Selena Gomez and brands like Red Bull, have created profiles on the platform. This startup wants to fix the broken structure of internships — Symba created white-label software to help companies communicate and collaborate with their now-distributed interns. Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch Good and bad board members (and what to do about them) — The CircleUp saga brings up questions about what happens behind the scenes at startups and about board composition specifically. What would Databricks be worth in a 2021 IPO? — We’ve described Databricks as “an obvious IPO candidate,” and now it sounds like an offering is indeed in the works. (Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.) Everything else NASA discovers water on the surface of the sunlit portion of the moon — Previously, we knew that water was present as ice on the dark part of the moon, but this is still a groundbreaking discovery. Human Capital: Court ruling could mean trouble for Uber and Lyft as gig workers may finally become employees — Megan Rose Dickey has officially launched her newsletter focused on labor, diversity and inclusion in tech. Original Content podcast: ‘Lovecraft Country’ is gloriously bonkers — Bonkers! The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Immigration law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy has confirmed a data breach involving the personal information of current and former Google employees. The New York-based law firm provides companies with employment verification screening services to determine if employees are eligible and authorized to work in the United States. Every company operating in the United States is required to maintain a Form I-9 file on every employee to ensure that they are legally allowed to work and not subject to more restrictive immigration rules. But Form I-9 files can contain a ton of sensitive information, including government documents like passports, ID cards and driver’s licenses, and other personally identifiable data, making them a target for hackers and identity thieves. But the law firm said it discovered last month that an unauthorized third-party accessed a file containing personal information on a “limited number” of current and former Google employees. In a notice with the California attorney general’s office, Fragomen did not say what kind of data was accessed or how many Google employees were affected. Companies with more than 500 California residents affected by a breach are required to submit a notice with the state’s attorney general’s office. Michael McNamara, a spokesperson for Fragomen, declined to say how many Google employees were affected by the breach. A spokesperson for Google did not respond to a request for comment. How to decode a data breach notice

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There likely isn’t a robotics teacher institute in the world actively pursuing robotic learning. The field, after all, holds the key to unlocking a lot of potential for the industry. One of the things that makes it so remarkable is the myriad different approaches so many researchers are taking to unlock the secrets of helping robots essentially learn from scratch. A new paper from Johns Hopkins University sporting the admittedly delightful name “Good Robot” explores the potential of learning through positive reinforcement. The title derives from an anecdote from author Andrew Hundt about teaching his dog to not chase after squirrels. I won’t go into that here — you can just watch this video instead: But the core of the idea is to offer the robot some manner of incentive when it gets something correct, rather than a disincentive when it does something wrong. For robots, incentives come in the form of a scoring system — essentially a kind of gamification that rewards a number of points based on correctly executing a task. The PhD candidate says the method was able to reduce the training time of a task significantly. “The robot wants the higher score,” Hundt said in a release tied to the research. “It quickly learns the right behavior to get the best reward. In fact, it used to take a month of practice for the robot to achieve 100% accuracy. We were able to do it in two days.” The tasks are still quite elementary, including stacking bricks and navigating through a video game, but there’s hope that future robots will be able to work up to more complex and useful real-world tasks. Where are all the robots?

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Courtney Caldwell and her husband Tye have been building the Dallas-based startup ShearShare, which provides a marketplace service connecting stylists with open seats at hair salons since 2017. Since their launch the two co-founders have been committed to the humble hustle of starting their own business. From flying between San Francisco and Dallas weekly to participate in the 19th 500 Startups cohort or participating in Y Combinator’s Fellowship program. Now, with a seed round of $2.3 million and another non-dilutive cash grant from Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, the early stage company is ready to expand. The two co-founders certainly have a pedigree in the beauty industry. Tye Caldwell has been a luminary in the industry and is a member-elect of the Professional Beauty Association’s advisory board. Together with Courtney he runs an award-winning salon in Dallas. ShearShare co-founders Tye and Courtney Caldwell Meanwhile, Courtney Caldwell spent over 20 years working for Oracle in technology marketing. But the two hadn’t really been exposed to the venture capital industry. So when they came up with the idea to start a service providing online matchmaking between salons and stylists — based on their own need to fill a chair at their salon — they didn’t really no where to turn. Enter TD Lowe. A longtime investor on her own and with organizations like StartupGrind, Lowe introduced the couple to the world of venture capital and startups and the two were off to the races. “We pioneered on-demand barbershop and space rentals,” Courtney said. “If a salon or barbershop has an open station a stylist can book it like they would a hotel room.” According to the Caldwells, the beauty industry is the second largest industry for freelancers and independent contractors. Unlike other companies that are trying to serve stylists by offering them features like booking and appointments independent of salons — or services for salons alone — ShearShare is trying to serve both sides of the marketplace with the tools they need. “We’re not a StyleSeat. We’re not a Squire,” said Courtney. What they are is expanding rapidly. The company has listings in over 600 cities ranging from chair that rents for $15 in Georgia to one that rents for $569 in the heart of Manhattan in New York City. The company processes payments for the stylists directly through a partnership with a local payment solution called First American Payments based in Ft. Worth, Texas. “Everyone is setting their sights on direct-to-consumer,” said Courtney. “This is a way we’re helping to keep people at work and refuel the individual economic recovery.” The next step for the company is to begin launching more ancillary services for stylists. They’re pioneering an insurance policy for stylists that would cover them from on-the-job lawsuits. “It’s becoming a huge opportunity for the stylist that just didn’t exist,” said Tye. And it all began when the two Caldwells couldn’t find any options when they searched for any terms related to renting space at a barbershop they said. “We reached out to a friend and told her about the opportunity that we’d been presented with and she said, ‘Guys… that’s a billion dollar idea.'” That friend was Lowe. Who came in to advise the couple and show them the ropes of startup investing. It’s at least an idea that’s worth tens of millions. That’s how much the startup Mayvenn has raised for its business providing hair extensions and other cosmetics to stylists. With a new deal for customers and a fresh $23 million, Mayvenn extends its hair care business Now, with its new funding, ShearShare is ready to expand, the couple said. ShearShare’s backers include: Precursor Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Structure Capital, Backstage Capital, and 500 Startups, alongside new participants Bread and Butter Ventures, ArlanWasHere Investments (Arlan Hamilton’s fund in which Mark Cuban is the sole LP), Lightspeed Venture Partners Scouts Program ( with Veronica Juarez and Jason McBride leading), Jaylon Smith of the Dallas Cowboys through the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute, Thaddeus Young of the Chicago Bulls with Reform Venture, the Bumble Fund, Notley Ventures, Sachse Family Fund, and other global investors. These investors are part of a new breed of investor that’s pushing venture investment into areas that were previously considered beyond the reach of typical firms. As the chief executive of a beauty and lifestyle startup, Julie Fredrickson told TechCrunch three years ago, “Most of these brands are commensurately underfunded compared to tech companies in similar positions,” said Fredrickson. “There’s a chance for a totally new dominant player and no one’s really gunning for it.” There’s a huge opportunity for businesses serving all aspects of the beauty industry to flourish, entrepreneurs and investors both said. “Venture is obsoleting itself as private equity and family offices increasingly go downstream because they’re willing to seek venture-style returns in verticals that venture capital is not prepared or is less educated about,” according to Frederickson.

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Starting today, Twitter users in the U.S. will see two large notices at the top of their feeds that aim to “preemptively debunk” misinformation related to voting. The striking messages are designed to push back against the deluge of false claims about the 2020 election. One notice warns users that they “might encounter misleading information” about mail-in voting while the other attempts to head off online election-related chaos by cautioning that the results of the U.S. election may be delayed. Delayed results are a very possible outcome in an election that will see more ballots than ever cast through the mail. States have differing rules about when mailed ballots can begin to be tallied, making it possible that official results may indeed take time to trickle in — a situation that it’s wise to normalize in advance. The prompts will point users to Twitter Moments that collect authoritative information on both topics. The notices will also pop up in searches of relevant terms and hashtags. Social media companies have scrambled to ready their platforms for the unique challenges of a deeply contentious U.S. election in the midst of a worsening national health crisis. While those efforts have been mixed — some weak, some more robust — serving proactive, attention-grabbing notices to everyone is a solid step up from the easy-to-miss misinformation “labels” that get tacked onto false claims across Twitter and Facebook. Changing how retweets work, Twitter seeks to slow down election misinformation

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Max Q is a weekly newsletter from TechCrunch all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Sundays in your inbox. This past week, we unveiled the agenda for TC Sessions: Space for the first time. It’s our inaugural event focused on space startups and related technologies, and it’s happening December 16 and 17. It’s entirely virtual, of course, and the good news is that means you can attend easily from anywhere in the world. We’ve got an amazing lineup, including newsmakers we regularly cover here. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be there, as well as U.S. Space Force commanding office Jay Raymond, and Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck, to name just a few. Tickets are available now, so sign up ASAP to get the best price possible. SpaceX launched 120 Starlink satellites last week alone SpaceX launched not one, but two separate Falcon 9 rockets loaded with Starlink satellites for its broadband internet service last week. The first took off on October 19, then just five days later, another full complement reached orbit. SpaceX has now launched nearly 1,000 of these, and it must be getting awfully close to kicking off its public beta of the consumer-facing internet service. NASA snags rock sample from asteroid’s surface Image Credits: NASA NASA has managed to collect a sample from the surface of an asteroid in a first for the agency. The sample collection came courtesy of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx robotic exploration probe, which was built by partner Lockheed Martin. OSIRIS-REx still has some work to do at Bennu, the asteroid from which it collected the sample, but next year it’ll begin heading back with its precious cargo intended for study by scientists here on Earth. NASA also found water on the sunny side of the Moon NASA is full of special discoveries this week – scientists working on its SOFIA imaging project confirmed the presence of water on the surface of the Moon that’s exposed to sunlight. They’d suspected it was there previously, but this is the first confirmed proof, and while it isn’t a whole lot of water, it could still change the future of human deep space exploration. Microsoft partners with SpaceX, unveils ‘Azure Space’ Image Credits: Microsoft Microsoft looks primed to invest in space-based business in a big way with Azure Space, a new business unit it formed to handle all space-related businesses attached to its cloud data efforts. That includes a new type of deployable mobile datacenter that will be connected in part via SpaceX’s Starlink global broadband network, putting computing power near where it’s needed in a scalable way. Intel’s local AI processor is now operating in space Intel has loaded up a small satellite with a power-efficient edge AI processor, its Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit. That’ll help the satellite do its own on-board classification of images of Earth that it takes, saving key bandwidth for what it transfers back to researchers on the ground. Local AI could help satellite networks in general operate much more efficiently, but it’s still in its infancy as a field. Lockeed Martin selects Relativity for NASA mission Image Credits: Relativity Space Relativity Space has tons of promise in terms of its 3D-printed rockets, but it still hasn’t actually reached the launch stage. It did however secure a key government contract, with Lockheed Martin selecting its rocket for a forthcoming mission to test fluid management systems for NASA. ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-63a70c19e197308b71b19a195112a25c') if ( iframe ) { iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-63a70c19e197308b71b19a195112a25c' }, "https:\/\/tcprotectedembed.com" ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'tcprotectedembed.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();

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Ryan Caldbeck, co-founder and former CEO of consumer-brands-focused crowdfunding site CircleUp, recently published an email he’d written to a former director on the board of the company. According to Caldbeck, he wrote the letter after CircleUp had bought out the investor’s firm because he wanted to provide constructive feedback, given that this individual’s “involvement was incredibly difficult for all of CircleUp and our board,” as he explained to this person, whose identity was shielded. The saga begged questions about what happens behind the scenes at startups and about board composition specifically. But Caldbeck’s situation may be more anomalous than not, suggest some veterans of the industry who have common sense advice around how to avoid problematic board members and how to deal with them if they can’t be avoided. First, and most obviously, get to know a potential board member as well as possible because who winds up as a director with your company can be a “life-changing decision” in both good and terrible ways, says Joel Peterson, a professor at Stanford’s business school, a former chairman of JetBlue Airways and the founding partner of Peterson Partners, a Salt Lake City-based firm that invests directly in startups and has stakes in many venture funds. Peterson’s advice is to “interview investors just as they’re interviewing you,” including not only to get a sense for whether someone is knowledgeable and shares your same values but also to get a sense for how much time they have for your company. In his view, venture capitalists are “often the worst board members while angel investors are often really good because they really care about the entrepreneur and have a more hands-on connection with them while they’re developing the business.”

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Freshworks, the customer and employee engagement company that offers a range of products, from call center and customer support software to HR tools and marketing automation services, today announced the launch of its newest product: Freshworks CRM. The new service, which the company built on top of its new Freshworks Neo platform, is meant to give sales and marketing teams all of the tools they need to get a better view of their customers — with a bit of machine learning thrown in for better predictions. Freshworks CRM is essentially a rebrand of the company’s Freshsales service, combined with the company’s capabilities of its Freshmarketer marketing automation tool. “Freshworks CRM unites Freshsales and Freshmarketer capabilities into one solution, which leverages an embedded customer data platform for an unprecedented and 360-degree view of the customer throughout their entire journey,” a company spokesperson told me. Freshworks acquires AnsweriQ The promise here is that this improved CRM solution is able to provide teams with a more complete view of their (potential) customers thanks to the unified view — and aggregated data — that the company’s Neo platform provides. The company argues that the majority of CRM users quickly become disillusioned with their CRM service of choice — and the reason for that is because the data is poor. That’s where Freshworks thinks it can make a difference. “Freshworks CRM delivers upon the original promise of CRM: a single solution that combines AI-driven data, insights and intelligence and puts the customer front and center of business goals,” said Prakash Ramamurthy, the company’s chief product officer. “We built Freshworks CRM to harness the power of data and create immediate value, challenging legacy CRM solutions that have failed sales teams with clunky interfaces and incomplete data.” The idea here is to provide teams with all of their marketing and sales data in a single dashboard and provide AI-assisted insights to them to help drive their decision making, which in turn should lead to a better customer experience — and more sales. The service offers predictive lead scoring and qualification, based on a host of signals users can customize to their needs, as well as Slack and Teams integrations, built-in telephony with call recording to reach out to prospects and more. A lot of these features were already available in Freshsales, too. “The challenge for online education is the ‘completion rate’. To increase this, we need to understand the ‘Why’ aspect for a student to attend a course and design ‘What’ & ‘How’ to meet the personalized needs of our students so they can achieve their individual goals,” said Mamnoon Hadi Khan, the chief analytics officer at Shaw Academy. “With Freshworks CRM, Shaw Academy can track the entire student customer journey to better engage with them through our dedicated Student Success Managers and leverage AI to personalize their learning experience — meeting their objectives.” Pricing for Freshworks CRM starts at $29 per user/month and goes up to $125 per user/month for the full enterprise plan with more advanced features. Freshworks acquires IT orchestration service Flint

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As you may already know, there’s a lot of data out there, and some of it could actually be pretty useful. But privacy and security considerations often put strict limitations on how it can be used or analyzed. DataFleets promises a new approach by which databases can be safely accessed and analyzed without the possibility of privacy breaches or abuse — and has raised a $4.5 million seed round to scale it up. To work with data, you need to have access to it. If you’re a bank, that means transactions and accounts; if you’re a retailer, that means inventories and supply chains, and so on. There are lots of insights and actionable patterns buried in all that data, and it’s the job of data scientists and their ilk to draw them out. But what if you can’t access the data? After all, there are many industries where it is not advised or even illegal to do so, such as in health care. You can’t exactly take a whole hospital’s medical records, give them to a data analysis firm, and say “sift through that and tell me if there’s anything good.” These, like many other data sets, are too private or sensitive to allow anyone unfettered access. The slightest mistake — let alone abuse — could have serious repercussions. A ‘stalkerware’ app leaked phone data from thousands of victims In recent years a few technologies have emerged that allow for something better, though: analyzing data without ever actually exposing it. It sounds impossible, but there are computational techniques for allowing data to be manipulated without the user ever actually having access to any of it. The most widely used one is called homomorphic encryption, which unfortunately produces an enormous, orders-of-magnitude reduction in efficiency — and big data is all about efficiency. This is where DataFleets steps in. It hasn’t reinvented homomorphic encryption, but has sort of sidestepped it. It uses an approach called federated learning, where instead of bringing the data to the model, they bring the model to the data. DataFleets integrates with both sides of a secure gap between a private database and people who want to access that data, acting as a trusted agent to shuttle information between them without ever disclosing a single byte of actual raw data. Image Credits: DataFleets Here’s an example. Say a pharmaceutical company wants to develop a machine learning model that looks at a patient’s history and predicts whether they’ll have side effects with a new drug. A medical research facility’s private database of patient data is the perfect thing to train it. But access is highly restricted. The pharma company’s analyst creates a machine learning training program and drops it into DataFleets, which contracts with both them and the facility. DataFleets translates the model to its own proprietary runtime and distributes it to the servers where the medical data resides; within that sandboxed environment, it runs grows into a strapping young ML agent, which when finished is translated back into the analyst’s preferred format or platform. The analyst never sees the actual data, but has all the benefits of it. Screenshot of the DataFleets interface. Look, it’s the applications that are meant to be exciting. It’s simple enough, right? DataFleets acts as a sort of trusted messenger between the platforms, undertaking the analysis on behalf of others and never retaining or transferring any sensitive data. Plenty of folks are looking into federated learning; the hard part is building out the infrastructure for a wide-ranging enterprise-level service. You need to cover a huge amount of use cases and accept an enormous variety of languages, platforms, and techniques, and of course do it all totally securely. “We pride ourselves on enterprise readiness, with policy management, identity access management, and our pending SOC 2 certification,” said DataFleets COO and co-founder Nick Elledge. “You can build anything on top of DataFleets and plug in your own tools, which banks and hospitals will tell you was not true of prior privacy software.” But once federated learning is set up, all of a sudden the benefits are enormous. For instance, one of the big issues today in combating COVID-19 is that hospitals, health authorities, and other organizations around the world are having difficulty, despite their willingness, in securely sharing data relating to the virus. Everyone wants to share, but who sends whom what, where is it kept, and under whose authority and liability? With old methods, it’s a confusing mess. With homomorphic encryption it’s useful but slow. With federated learning, theoretically, it’s as easy as toggling someone’s access. InfoSum raises $15.1M for its privacy-first, federated approach to big data analytics Because the data never leaves its “home,” this approach is essentially anonoymous and thus highly compliant with regulations like HIPAA and GDPR, another big advantage. Elledge notes: “We’re being used by leading healthcare institutions who recognize that HIPAA doesn’t give them enough protection when they are making a data set available for third parties.” Of course there are less noble, but no less viable, examples in other industries: wireless carriers could make subscriber metadata available without selling out individuals; banks could sell consumer data without violating anyone in particular’s privacy; bulky datasets like video can sit where they are instead of being duplicated and maintained at great expense. The company’s $4.5M seed round is seemingly evidence of confidence from a variety of investors (as summarized by Elledge): AME Cloud Ventures (Jerry Yang of Yahoo!) and Morado Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Peterson Ventures, Mark Cuban, LG, Marty Chavez (President of the Board of Overseers of Harvard), Stanford-StartX fund, and three unicorn founders (Rappi, Quora, and Lucid). With only 11 full time employees DataFleets appears to be doing a lot with very little, and the seed round should enable rapid scaling and maturation of its flagship product. “We’ve had to turn away or postpone new customer demand to focus on our work with our lighthouse customers,” Elledge said. They’ll be hiring engineers in the U.S. and Europe to help launch the planned self-service product next year. “We’re moving from a data ownership to a data access economy, where information can be useful without transferring ownership,” said Elledge. If his company’s bet is on target, federated learning is likely to be a big part of that going forward. Facebook talked privacy, Google actually built it

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One week to the U.S. presidential election and things are getting spicy. It’s not just the rhetoric — hackers are actively working to disrupt the election, officials have said, and last week they came with a concrete example and an unusually quick pointing of blame. On Wednesday night, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe blamed Iran for an email operation designed to intimidate voters in Florida into voting for President Trump “or else.” Ratcliffe, who didn’t take any questions from reporters and has been accused of politicizing the typically impartial office, said Iran had used voter registration data — which is largely public in the U.S. — to send emails that looked like they came from the far-right group the Proud Boys. Google security researchers also linked the campaign to Iran, which denied claims of its involvement. It’s estimated about 2,500 emails went through in the end, with the rest getting caught in spam filters. The announcement was lackluster in detail. But experts like John Hultquist, who heads intelligence analysis at FireEye-owned security firm Mandiant, said the incident is “clearly aimed at undermining voter confidence,” just as the Russians attempted during the 2016 election.   THE BIG PICTURE Twitter was hacked using a fake VPN portal, New York investigation finds The hackers who broke into Twitter’s network used a fake VPN page to steal the credentials — and two-factor authentication code — of an employee, an investigation by New York’s Department of Financial Affairs found. The state tax division got involved after the hackers then hijacked user accounts using an internal “admin tool” to spread a cryptocurrency scam. In a report published last week, the department said the hackers called several Twitter employees and used social engineering to trick one employee into entering their username and password on a site that looked like the company’s VPN portal, which most employees use to access the network from home during the pandemic. Twitter Hack Update: We knew the attackers used the phone & pretended to be IT Support, but now we know the criminals specifically said they were calling about VPN issues, taking advantage of COVID-19 remote work strain. Sadly, these pretexts work often. https://t.co/kKe8XO3MCJ pic.twitter.com/fpE6Afcij1 — Rachel Tobac (@RachelTobac) October 20, 2020 “As the employee entered their credentials into the phishing website, the hackers would simultaneously enter the information into the real Twitter website. This false log-in generated a [two-factor authentication] notification requesting that the employees authenticate themselves, which some of the employees did,” wrote the report. Once onto the network using the employee’s VPN credentials, the hackers used that access to investigate how to access the company’s internal tools. Twitter said in September that its employees would receive hardware security keys, which would make it far more difficult for a repeat phishing attack to be successful. Open-source YouTube download tool hit by DMCA takedown, but backfires

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A new startup, Mailman, recently launched an email assistant that helps Gmail users to get better control over their inbox. Unlike many email startups, which require users to switch to a new platform or even adopt a new email address, Mailman works along with your existing Gmail account to do things like block annoying emails, batch email delivery, configure VIPs who can bypass filters and even silence your inbox for a period of time. Image Credits: Mailman The service is the latest in a long line of email startups that have arrived over the years, promising an upgraded email experience — the most recent being Basecamp’s Hey, a new app offering a hosted email service with an expanded set of tools to declutter your inbox. But many people don’t want to switch to a new email platform or client app, and they don’t generally want to adopt a new email address. They just want to tame their existing inbox. That’s where Mailman comes in. The service works by authenticating with your Google account, where you give it permission to manage mailbox labels as well as basic email settings (like moving mail to a snoozed folder). You also give Mailman the ability to view and modify but not delete email. That latter permission is worth noting and considering carefully. Anyone with sensitive information in their inbox may not want to grant a third party access to manage their email inbox. But arguably, any truly sensitive material shouldn’t be moving over email to begin with, as any security expert would tell you. For what it’s worth, Mailman says it doesn’t store any data that’s not directly used by the customer in the Mailman interface and it doesn’t monetize your email data — the way that Gmail itself does. It also claims to only read the timestamp, sender’s address and subject line, not the body of your emails, when it assists you in managing your inbox. Mailman additionally claims to encrypt the data it stores in its database, on servers located in the U.S., Canada and India. And it’s GDPR-compliant — meaning you can delete all your data permanently with a click of a button. Regardless, you’ll have to weigh the risks with the potential benefits of using any email add-on, due to its need to gain inbox access in order to function. If you choose to proceed and Mailman is granted access to manage your inbox, you can then opt to use any of its features to stem the flow of email. Basecamp launches Hey, a hosted email service for neat freaks One of the biggest issues with email is that it continually arrives throughout the day, as soon as emails are sent. That means you end up responding to emails on the sender’s schedule instead of your own. Mailman introduces a couple of options to address this problem. If you would like to carve out some email-free time to work without being bothered by incoming email, you can set up a Do Not Disturb schedule that holds back your email during the window you specify. Image Credits: Mailman Another feature lets you choose to receive emails in batches at a set number of times per day, or at specific times you configure. In this case, Mailman holds back the emails from your inbox until these delivery slots — allowing you to set times where you’ll work on email, instead of allowing email to pull your focus throughout the day. Image Credits: Mailman The service also lets you prioritize important email and block others. You can add senders, domains and even keywords to a “VIP” list that lets those emails bypass filters so you always see urgent emails. This could help you ensure that you don’t miss critical emails from your boss or an important client, for example, even as you use other tools to tame your inbox. Image Credits: Mailman Unimportant emails, meanwhile, can be blocked automatically as Mailman can block newsletters, notifications and emails from senders you’ve never interacted with before. It doesn’t delete these emails, however. Instead, you’ll receive a daily digest that lets you choose how to treat those emails in the future — whether they should be automatically blocked from now on, for example, or immediately sent through. Over time, this can help train Mailman to ensure you’re getting your important email with fewer distractions. You don’t have to use all the tools Mailman provides — you can pick and choose those you need while leaving others off, the company notes. And because all the filtering is being done within the Gmail service itself, you can continue to use whichever email client you prefer. The startup was founded by serial entrepreneur Mohit Mamoria, now Mailman CEO, and Andrew Wilkinson, MetaLab’s founder who now invests and partners with startups through Tiny. Mailman is incubating under Tiny’s umbrella, where it gets help with marketing, UX and early customer acquisition, among other things. Explains Mamoria, he and Wilkinson were both in search of different ways to tame their inbox. Mamoria had built a script called Duggo to do it. When he saw a tweet asking about inbox tools from Wilkinson (below), he reached out. How can I achieve this using Superhuman + Gmail: I want to receive batches of email a few times a day vs email just flowing in constantly. I just want new email 2-3 timed a day. Like an old school postman. Any ideas? — Andrew Wilkinson (@awilkinson) February 17, 2020 The two decided to collaborate and ended up launching Mailman into beta August 2020, where it has already gained just under 3,000 users. As of last week, Mailman became available to the public. It was announced via a Product Hunt post where it was endorsed by a number of fellow entrepreneurs and founders. Some have also contributed testimonials to the Mailman website. To some extent, you can use Gmail’s own filters to manage your inbox today, but they aren’t as user friendly. And email services don’t offer tools to configure batch deliveries or quiet times, leaving users to tend to silence their interruptions by snoozing push notifications on their devices instead. Because of email apps’ failure to innovate, new services like Hey, Superhuman and others have popped up, hoping to deliver a better experience for power users. Mailman, like some rivals, generates revenue through subscriptions — it costs $10 per month or $96 per year. That’s more affordable than the newly popular email service Superhuman, which manages Gmail through its $30 per month client, but it has been called out as too expensive. The co-founders believe that Mailman has the potential to reach a broader audience than other inbox-taming startups because it respects that users want to keep their existing email and client app. “Almost everybody who has tried to solve the inbox overload has gone in the direction of building an email client,” explains Mamoria. “[Basecamp’s] Hey went a step further to build an email service altogether. What they miss is that changing email clients or services is easier said than done. It requires huge behavior change and is usually the biggest hurdle to cross for an average user,” he says. Mailman is available today and exclusively works with Google accounts. It may roll out support to other email providers in the future, but nothing is currently planned in that area. SlideMail Is An Intelligent Email App For The Rest Of Us

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posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
Earlier this year, the founders of event analytics platform Hubilo pivoted to become a virtual events platform to survive the impact of COVID-19. Today, the startup announced it has raised a $4.5 million seed round, led by Lightspeed, and says it expects to exceed $10 million bookings run rate and host over one million attendees over the next few months. The round also included angel investors Freshworks chief executive officer Girish Mathrubootham; former LinkedIn India CEO Nishant Rao; Slideshare co-founder Jonathan Boutelle; and Helpshift CEO Abinash Tripathy. Hubilo’s clients have included the United Nations, Roche, Fortune, GITEX, IPI Singapore, Tech In Asia, Infocomm Asia and Clarion Events. The startup is headquartered in San Francisco, but about 12% of its sales are currently from Southeast Asia, and it plans to further scale in the region. It will also focus on markets in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Event discovery network IRL raises $16M Series B after refocusing on virtual events Vaibhav Jain, Hubilo’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that many of its customers before the pandemic were enterprises and governments that used its platform to help organize large events. Those were also the first to stop hosting in-person events. In February, “we knew that most, if not all, physical events were getting postponed or cancelled globally. To counter the drop in demand for offline events, we agreed to extend the contracts by six more months at no cost,” Jain said. “However, this was not enough to retain our clients and most of them either cancelled the contracts or put the contract on hold indefinitely.” As a result, Hubilo’s revenue dropped to zero in February. With about 30 employees and reserves for only three months, Jain said the company had to chose between shutting down or finding an alternative model. Hubilo’s team created a MVP (minimum viable product) virtual event platform in less than a month and started by convincing a client to use it for free. That first virtual event was hosted in March and “since then, we’ve never looked back,” said Jain. This means Hubilo is now competing with other virtual event platforms, like Cvent and Hopin (which was used to host TechCrunch Disrupt). Jain said his company differentiates by giving organizers more chances to rebrand their virtual spaces; focusing on sponsorship opportunities that include contests, event feeds and virtual lounges to increase attendee engagement; and providing data analytic features that include integration with Salesforce, Marketo and Hubspot. With so many events going virtual that “Zoom fatigue” and “webinar fatigue” have now become catchphrases, event organizers have to not only convince people to buy tickets, but also keep them engaged during an event. Hubilo “gamifies” the experience of attending a virtual event with features like its Leaderboard. This enables organizers to assign points for things like watching a session, visiting a virtual booth or messaging someone. Then they can give prizes to the attendees with the most points. Jain said the Leaderboard is Hubilo’s most used feature. Spotify is developing a ‘virtual events’ feature

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posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
NASA has made a groundbreaking discovery – confirming the presence of water on the surface of Moon, in the area that is exposed to sunlight. Previously, we knew that water was present as water ice on the dark part of the Moon, and that’s part of the reason that the next mission to the Moon is to the lunar South Pole, where it’s believed that water ice could be present hidden in craters that aren’t ever exposed to direct sunlight. This isn’t an entirely surprising discovery, because NASA scientists and researchers had previously found indications that water was potentially present on the Moon’s sunlight side. But what is new is confirmation, in the form of observational data by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that deduce water molecules in the Moon’s Clavius Crater in its Southern Hemisphere. As you might expect since it took this long to actual verify its presence, the lunar water isn’t very plentiful. NASA says they were able to detect between 100 and 412 parts per million in an area spanning a cubic meter of soil, which is around the equivalent of a standard 12-ounce bottle of water – to put that in context, NASA points out that “the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water” vs. what SOFIA was able to detect. Even so, the fact that it’s able to survive intact in the relatively harsh conditions of the sun-exposed lunar surface is intriguing, and will merit further study. Scientists want to find out how the date gets there, and how it manages to actually accumulate. They’ll study that, and scope for potential future use by human explorers establishing a more permanent presence on the lunar surface, through future SOFIA missions looking at different craters and sunlit areas for other water deposits. This is definitely a landmark discovery, and one that will likely prove integral to the future of human deep space exploration. Part of those longer-term goals include establishing a scientific base of operations on the Moon from which scientists can conduct research, and eventually reach further out to destinations including Mars. Using in-situ resources, including water, could make all of that possible much quicker and without requiring much more complicated workarounds, since it forms the basis for not only human survival, but also essential resources for additional missions from the Moon including rocket fuel for launches.

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In the distant past, there was a proverbial “digital divide” that bifurcated workers into those who knew how to use computers and those who didn’t.[1] Young Gen Xers and their later millennial companions grew up with Power Macs and Wintel boxes, and that experience made them native users on how to make these technologies do productive work. Older generations were going to be wiped out by younger workers who were more adaptable to the needs of the modern digital economy, upending our routine notion that professional experience equals value. Of course, that was just a narrative. Facility with using computers was determined by the ability to turn it on and login, a bar so low that it can be shocking to the modern reader to think that a “divide” existed at all. Software engineering, computer science, and statistics remained quite unpopular compared to other academic programs, even in universities, let alone in primary through secondary schools. Most Gen Xers and millennials never learned to code, or frankly, even to make a pivot table or calculate basic statistical averages. There’s a sociological change underway though, and it’s going to make the first divide look quaint in hindsight. Over the past two or so years, we have seen the rise of a whole class of software that has been broadly (and quite inaccurately) dubbed “no-code platforms.” These tools are designed to make it much easier for users to harness the power of computing in their daily work. That could be everything from calculating the most successful digital ad campaigns given some sort of objective function, or perhaps integrating a computer vision library into a workflow that calculates the number of people entering or exiting a building. The success and notoriety of these tools comes from the feeling that they grant superpowers to their users. Projects that once took a team of engineers some hours to build can now be stitched together in a couple of clicks through a user interface. That’s why young startups like Retool can raise at nearly a $1 billion and Airtable at $2.6 billion, while others like Bildr, Shogun, Bubble, Stacker, and dozens more are getting traction among users. Of course, no-code tools often require code, or at least, the sort of deductive logic that is intrinsic to coding. You have to know how to design a pivot table, or understand what a machine learning capability is and what might it be useful for. You have to think in terms of data, and about inputs, transformations, and outputs. The key here is that no-code tools aren’t successful just because they are easier to use — they are successful because they are connecting with a new generation who understands precisely the sort of logic required by these platforms to function. Today’s students don’t just see their computers and mobile devices as consumption screens and have the ability to turn them on. They are widely using them as tools of self-expression, research and analysis. Take the popularity of platforms like Roblox and Minecraft. Easily derided as just a generation’s obsession with gaming, both platforms teach kids how to build entire worlds using their devices. Even better, as kids push the frontiers of the toolsets offered by these games, they are inspired to build their own tools. There has been a proliferation of guides and online communities to teach kids how to build their own games and plugins for these platforms (Lua has never been so popular). How Roblox completely transformed its tech stack These aren’t tiny changes. 150 million play Roblox games across 40 million user-created experiences, and the platform has nearly 350,000 developers. Minecraft for its part has more than 130 million active users. These are generation-defining experiences for young people today. That excitement to harness computers is also showing up in educational data. Advanced Placement tests for Computer Science have grown from around 20,000 in 2010 to more than 70,000 this year according to the College Board, which administers the high school proficiency exams. That’s the largest increase among all of the organization’s dozens of tests. Meanwhile at top universities, computer science has emerged as the top or among the top majors, pulling in hundreds of new students per campus per year. The specialized, almost arcane knowledge of data analysis and engineering is being widely democratized for this new generation, and that’s precisely where a new digital divide is emerging. In business today, it’s not enough to just open a spreadsheet and make some casual observations anymore. Today’s new workers know how to dive into systems, pipe different programs together using no-code platforms, and answer problems with much more comprehensive — and real-time — answers. It’s honestly striking to see the difference. Whereas just a few years ago, a store manager might (and strong emphasis on might) put their sales data into Excel and then let it linger there for the occasional perusal, this new generation is prepared to connect multiple online tools together to build an online storefront (through no-code tools like Shopify or Squarespace), calculate basic LTV scores using a no-code data platform, and prioritize their best customers with marketing outreach through basic email delivery services. And it’s all reproducible, since it is in technology and code and not produced by hand. There are two important points here. First is to note the degree of fluency these new workers have for these technologies, and just how many members of this generation seem prepared to use them. They just don’t have the fear to try new programs out, and they know they can always use search engines to find answers to problems they are having. Second, the productivity difference between basic computer literacy and a bit more advanced expertise is profound. Even basic but accurate data analysis on a business can raise performance substantially compared to gut instinct and expired spreadsheets. This second digital divide is only going to get more intense. Consider students today in school, who are forced by circumstance to use digital technologies in order to get their education. How many more students are going to become even more capable of using these technologies? How much more adept are they going to be at remote work? While the current educational environment is a travesty and deeply unequal, the upshot is that ever more students are going to be forced to become deeply fluent in computers.[2] Progress in many ways is about raising the bar. This generation is raising the bar on how data is used in the workplace, in business, and in entrepreneurship. They are better than ever at bringing together various individual services and cohering them into effective experiences for their customers, readers, and users. The No-Code Generation has the potential to finally fill that missing productivity gap in the global economy, making our lives better while saving time for everyone. ‘No code’ will define the next generation of software [1] Probably worth pointing out that the other “digital divide” at the time was describing households who had internet access and households who did not. That’s a divide that unfortunately still plagues America and many other rich, industrialized countries. [2] Important to note that access to computing is still an issue for many students and represents one of the most easily fixable inequalities today in America. Providing equal access to computing should be an absolute imperative.

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posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
Internships are an opportunity for students to experiment with new career paths and land a full-time offer ahead of graduation. For companies, the weeks-long programs help recruit and train job-ready hires. While the stakes are high, the coronavirus-spurred office closures and market volatility made a number of tech companies slim down or cancel their internship programs. Similar to remote schooling, the startups that kept their programs had a huge hurdle to face: How do you teach and train students across the world about your company? That’s where Symba, a Techstars alum, comes in. The 12-person startup created a white-label software tool to help companies, including Robinhood and Genentech, create an online space to communicate and collaborate with their now-distributed interns. Tech’s coveted internships are getting canceled due to COVID-19 “Every year, organizations are reinventing the wheel and starting their internship program from scratch,” Ahva Sadeghi, CEO of Symba, said. “It’s like, you’re spending so much money, this is a core part of your recruitment, but you’re not invested in an infrastructure to make sure it’s sustainable.” Symba sells a plug-and-play workspace for both interns and managers. Interns sign into Symba through a branded landing page and are brought into a workspace. They can then toggle between feedback, community, profiles and projects. There’s also an entire area for onboarding tutorials and company history. Interns are brought to a workspace upon login. Image via Symba. Sadeghi is joined by co-founder and CTO Nikita Gupta, who built the entire site from scratch. Symba was built with a big focus on creating channels for feedback between interns and managers. There is a tab dedicated solely to feedback, where managers can consistently rank their direct reports on a five-star rating scale across various skills. Interns are also able to request feedback. Each user is invited to create a profile so other interns can reach out and learn about their cohort. While Symba wants to be where interns live during their internship, there’s no direct messaging mechanisms within the web-based platform. Instead, Symba has embedded a Slack integration for users who want to talk directly. The community board allows interns to meet other interns and chat. Image via Symba. Managers, on the other hand, are able to log in, assign tasks and check on progress for their direct reports. Feedback is also tracked during the entirety of the internship, to help see who has made progress and deserves a potential return offer. Because interns come in for only eight to 12 weeks, she says the traditional internship onboarding process — which includes bringing them all onto a company’s full-time tech stack — could create chaos for the organization. Symba wants to be a low-lift alternative. Sadeghi says that customers have been attracted to the alumni features in their platform, which allow managers to engage interns after the program is complete. The applicant-tracking system works to keep potential hires in the fold of the company. So far, Symba is optimistic that the tool is working. Users log into the product an average of six to nine times per day, and there have been more than 15,000 intern-projects created on Symba. The company declined to disclose revenue, citing the stage of its business, but said that it charges companies $30 to $50 per user per month for the product. The average size of a Symba cohort is 80, but they have had customers who bring more than 2,000 interns onto the product. It only works with companies who pay their interns. Founders don’t need to be full-time to start raising venture capital A hurdle of Symba will be the seasonality of its revenue. Because most internships are in the summer, Symba will likely find most growth opportunities during that three-month period. Symba’s early growth is directly related to the pandemic, as the fear of the virus closed offices, and, in turn, shuttered internship programs. Symba’s success will hinge on if the team can convince companies that an online workspace for interns is a necessary product even when offices reopen. Beyond translating into a post-pandemic world, Symba wants to be a solution for clients such as bootcamps, accelerators or fellowships. If it’s able to land year-round clients, it will be able to balance the seasonality of its current revenue of summer internships. The success so far is promising: Early momentum has helped Symba raise $750,000 from a number of investors, including 1517 Fund, January Ventures and Hustle Fund.

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posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
TechCrunch recently covered Databricks’ financial performance in 2020, contrasting its recent performance to some historical 2019 data that the company shared. The data-and-analysis focused unicorn grew its annual run rate 75% to $350 million, compared to its year-ago quarter, meaning that the firm is growing well at scale. TechCrunch described it as “an obvious IPO candidate” at the time, a little under two weeks ago. The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday. Since that point, Bloomberg reported that Databricks is indeed charging ahead with an IPO, a transaction that could come as soon as the first half of 2021, writing that that it “has held talks with banks but has yet to hire underwriters” for its flotation. That is enough news for us to have fun with. So, this morning let’s collate all that we know about the company’s financial performance, mix in some current market valuation metrics, and do some light projecting of Databricks’ growth. Our question? What might the company be worth at the end of Q1 or Q2 next year. Of course, there are some worrying signs on the horizon that the stock market is about to shift lower, but, hey, there’s no need to be a pessimist this early on a Monday morning. Let’s get into the math. Databricks’ potential IPO valuations Starting with some history, Databricks was worth $6.2 billion after its September, 2019 Series F round of capital. The company raised $400 million in the transaction, its largest round to-date by $150 million. That capital should get the company to an H1 2020 IPO, provided that its spending didn’t go all old-school Dropbox.

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YouTube today is rolling out a series of updates to its player page on mobile devices. The changes relocate some elements, add new features — like an expanded set of gesture-based navigation options — and update existing ones, like video chapters, among other things. Video chapters were introduced in May, as an easier way to get to the “good part” of a video, without having to manually fast-forward. Instead, creators can apply timestamps to their videos that allow users to quickly jump to a specific section of a video or backtrack to rewatch a key part. These chapters are automatically enabled as a line of timestamps and titles, based on chapter information the creator adds to their video’s description, beginning at segment 0:00. Image Credits: YouTube Today, YouTube is extending this feature to include a new list view that lets you see a complete list of all the chapters included in the video, each with their own preview thumbnail. You can access this list view by tapping or clicking on the chapter title in the player, then jump to the part of the video you want to see by tapping the video chapter in the list. This make chapters easier to navigate, as the thumbnails offer a visual guide to the various parts of the video. YouTube is also today updating its player page. To make captions more accessible, it’s moving the button to a more prominent position on mobile phones. The auto-play toggle has been moved as well, so it’s easier to turn it on or off while you’re watching a video — a change that will roll out to desktop users soon, too, YouTube says. Image Credits: YouTube There are other small improvements on the new player page, including a re-arranged buttons and controls that respond to your input faster than they did before. Along with the user interface changes, navigation has been updated to include an expanded set of gesture controls. Already, you can double tap on the left or right side of a video to either fast forward or rewind 10 seconds. Now, you’ll be able to swipe up to enter full screen mode and swipe down to exit full screen, too. Image Credits: YouTube And if you want to see how much time is counting down versus how much time has elapsed in a video you’re watching, you can tap the timestamp to switch back and forth between these numbers. In another change, YouTube will prompt viewers with “suggested actions” when there’s a way to have a better video experience. For example, you may be prompted to rotate your phone for a landscape video, or play a video in VR. Over time, it will roll out more suggestions, as needed. Image Credits: YouTube In its announcement today, YouTube mentioned a bedtime reminders feature which actually launched earlier this year. It’s not clear why it was lumped in with the other changes, as it’s already live. (YouTube says it was just a “recap”). Many of the other changes may not be new to all users, either, however. YouTube confirmed to TechCrunch that some users will already have these features at the time of the announcement, while others will receive them this week. The updates will roll out across both iOS and Android, starting today.

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Readers of a certain age will no doubt remember some region variation of TV Powww. The syndicated program, which found viewers at home giving directions over the phone to an in-studio operating playing an Intellivision game. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit review Perhaps the best-known variant is New York’s TV PIXXX, wherein the player would say “PIXX” (a reference to the station’s call letters), in hopes of winning a T-shirt or U.S. Savings Bond. The game was, famously, plagued with the sorts of technical and latency issues one might expect from such an enterprise. Technology has, thankfully, come a long way since then. Live streaming and cloud gaming in particular have finally started coming into their own in recent years. Founded in 2017, Finnish service Surrogate.tv offers a clever twist on these verticals, offering remote play versions of games with physical elements. Things like pinball, robot fighting and claw machines feature prominently. Naturally, all of that makes Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit a perfect candidate for what the site offers. Launched last week, Surrogate is currently offering users the chance to play the game remotely during a number of blocks throughout the week (keep in mind that human beings need to be present in-person on the other side). Using the service, four players at a time can control the RC karts, using feeds from the the remote Switches that offer up the AR overlay. Image Credits: Surrogate To accomplish the experience (which, Surrogate is quick to note, is in no way affiliate with Nintendo), the site emulated the Switch using the GitHub NSGadgetPi project, which is built with an Adafruit M0 microcontroller. Beyond that, each of the karts, meanwhile, requires the following, per Surrogate, Nintendo Switch – To run the game. Nintendo Mario or Luigi RC Kart – To be driven on the race track. Raspberry Pi 4 – To run SurroRTG and Surrogate’s custom image recognition. HDMI Capture Card – To capture the video feed. USB Sound Card – To capture the sound. Image Credits: Surrogate It’s a fun way to experience the game without spending $99 on a kart (and four times that to get the full four-player in-person experience). Though, as anticipated, there are some lag issues, as a few of our staff members who have tried it out can attest. Getting the hang of it takes a few races, and that can eat up some serious time. Depending on when you play, the waiting list gets pretty long — and getting some press coverage will likely only make matter worse. Image Credits: Surrogate At very least, however, things have improved tremendously since the days of TV Powww. Nintendo’s new RC Mario Kart looks terrific

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posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
As iPhone owners began customizing their iOS 14 homescreens with new widgets and custom icons, Pinterest iOS downloads and searches surged as the app became a top source for design ideas and inspiration. Today, Pinterest is more directly joining the homescreen customization trend with its own iOS 14 widget of its own. Last month, Pinterest broke its daily download record when it saw over 600,000+ downloads in a single day. Though third-party estimates disagreed on which day the new record was achieved, multiple firms saw an outsized number of new users downloading the Pinterest mobile app. The demand was directly tied to the #ios14homescreen redesign trend that was also being shared across social media as users showed off how they were using iOS 14’s new widgets, along with matching wallpapers and custom icons for app shortcuts to give their homescreen a new “aesthetic.” During this time, Pinterest says it saw searches for ideas like “indie ios 14 homescreen” spike by 15x in the week following the iOS 14 launch compared with the week prior, while searches for “iPhone aesthetic” were up by 19x. The trend also pushed custom widget makers — like Widgetsmith, Color Widgets, and Photo Widget — up to the top of the App Store charts, as they allowed users to add photos and other colorful widgets to their homescreen. Similarly, the new Pinterest widget launching today could make for a good alternative to a static photo widget. Instead of choosing a photo or album of photos saved to your Camera Roll to serve as the source for your iOS 14 homescreen photos as with other photo widgets, the new Pinterest widget allows you to select a Pinterest board as your photo source. The board can either be one of your own or one that you follow. For example, you could add a widget that features your favorite motivational quotes or one that serves of photos of travel inspiration or style ideas. You could also create seasonal boards, like those for Halloween or fall or Christmas or winter, to make it easier to swap between different homescreen “aesthetics” with the changing seasons. Pinterest says the new widget will update the photo it features on an hourly on daily basis, depending on your preferences. The widget can also be set either as a small photo or large one, but the company notes there’s no medium option as it’s not optimal for Pin length. The widget is also interactive. When you tap the Pinterest widget, you’ll be launched directly to that Pin in the app. As you find new photos that fit your homescreen aesthetic, you can add them to your board to keep a fresh set of photos appearing on your homescreen. The updated app with the widget is rolling out to iOS users worldwide starting today, Pinterest says.  

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SAP announced its Q3 earnings yesterday, with its aggregate results down across the board. And after missing earnings expectations, the company also revised its 2021 outlook down. The combined bad news spooked investors, crashing its shares by over 20% in pre-market trading and the stock wasn’t showing any signs of improving in early trading. The German software giant has lost tens of billions of dollars in market cap as a result. The overall report was gloomy, with total revenues falling 4% to €6.54 billion, cloud and software revenue down 2%, and operating profit down 12%. The only bright spot was its pure-cloud category, which grew 11% to €1.98 billion. SAP’s revenue result was around €310 million under expectations, though its per-share profit beat both adjusted, and non-adjusted expectations. While SAP’s big revenue miss might have been enough to send investors racing for the exits, its revised forecast doubled concerns. Even though the company said that its customers are accelerating their move to the cloud during the pandemic — something that TechCrunch has been tracking for some time now — SAP also said that the pandemic is slowing sales, and large projects. Constellation Research anayst Holger Mueller says this is resulting in an unexpected revenue slow-down. “What has happened at SAP is a cloud revenue delay as customers know that SAP is only investing into cloud products, and they have to migrate to those in the future. The news is that SAP customers are not migrating to the cloud during a pandemic,” Mueller told TechCrunch. SAP decision to spin out Qualtrics 20 months after spending $8B surprises industry watchers In a sign of the times, SAP spent a portion of its earnings results talking about 2025 results, a maneuver that failed to allay investor concerns that the pandemic was dramatically impacting SAP’s business today and in the coming year. For 2020, SAP made the following cuts to its forecasts: €8.0 – 8.2 billion non-IFRS cloud revenue at constant currencies (previously €8.3 – 8.7 billion €23.1 – 23.6 billion non-IFRS cloud and software revenue at constant currencies (previously €23.4 – 24.0 billion) €27.2 – 27.8 billion non-IFRS total revenue at constant currencies (previously €27.8 – 28.5 billion) €8.1 – 8.5 billion non-IFRS operating profit at constant currencies (previously €8.1 – 8.7 billion) So, €300 million to €500 million in cloud revenue is now gone, along with €300 million to €400 million in cloud and software revenue, and €600 to €700 million in total revenue. That cut profit expectations by up to €200 million. The company, however, is trying to put a happy face on the future projections, believing that as the impact of COVID begins to diminish, existing customers will eventually shift to the cloud and that will drive significant new revenues over the longer term. The trade-off is short-term pain for the next year or two. “Over the next two years, we expect to see muted growth of revenue accompanied by a flat to slightly lower operating profit. After 2022 momentum will pick up considerably though. Initial headwinds of the accelerated cloud transition will start to turn into tailwinds for revenue and profit. […] That translates to accelerated revenue growth and double digit operating profit growth from 2023 onwards,” SAP CFO Luka Mucic said in a call with analysts this morning. The question now becomes can they meet these projections, and if the longer-term approach during a pandemic will placate investors. As of this morning, they weren’t looking happy about it. And then there was one: Co-CEO Jennifer Morgan to depart SAP

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Our first-ever dedicated space event is coming up on December 16 and 17, and we’re thrilled to announce that Lieutenant General John F. Thompson of the U.S. Air Force will join us on our virtual stage at TC Sessions: Space. Thompson is the Commander, Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and oversees research, design, development and acquisition of satellites and their associated command and control systems for the U.S. Space Force. We’re excited to have Thompson joining us because his role puts him directly in contact with some of the country’s most ambitious and technically advanced startups. As the person responsible for ensuring that the U.S. has a commanding position in areas including advanced missile warning, space launch, space superiority in the emerging defense arena and much more. There’s likely no one in the U.S. defense world closer to the space-focused pipeline for emerging and future-focused technology development. Lt. Gen. John Thompson, U.S. Space Force Part of what Thompson and the SMC have accomplished under his supervision is the establishment and continued growth of a rich ecosystem of non-traditional space startups, through both contracting and early stage funding to help them develop novel approaches to challenges both new and old. That work will also form the basis of the forthcoming Space Systems Command (SSC), an in-development command that will be responsible for development, acquisition and deployment of in-space capabilities for the U.S. Space Force. SSC will take its cues from the SMC and its Air Force origins, but be a new, overarching acquisitions entity that also incorporates the needs of Army and Navy space acquisition activities. We’ll talk to Thompson about that work and how it’s progressing, and what changes about his work and the SMC’s mission as the U.S. continues to establish and grow the Space Force as its own, dedicated military branch. If you want to hear from Lt General Thompson, you can grab a ticket to get exclusive access to watch this session (along with many others) live (with access to video on demand), network with the innovators changing the space industry, discover the hottest early-stage companies, learn how to score grants for your space company, recruit talent or even find a job with an early-bird ticket for just $125 until November 13. And we have discounts available for groups, students, active military/government employees and for early-stage space startup founders who want to give their startup some extra visibility. ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-63a70c19e197308b71b19a195112a25c') if ( iframe ) { iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-63a70c19e197308b71b19a195112a25c' }, "https:\/\/tcprotectedembed.com" ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'tcprotectedembed.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();  

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Postmates, now destiend to be a division of Uber, is diving deeper into the world of on-demand retail and its partnership with the National Football League. The company, working alongside Fanatics and the Los Angeles Rams is launching a pop-up shop Monday for fans to buy gear directly through the delivery service. The store is coordinated with the first Monday Night Football game being played at the Rams SoFi stadium. Postmates will be delivering Rams merchandise through the collaboration with Fanatics starting at 10 in the morning Pacific and running through kickoff. In September, the company announced that it was the first official on-demand food delivery partner for the NFL. A designation that means a multi-year sponsorship for some of the biggest sporting events in the U.S. including the Super Bowl. “Fans will be watching NFL football this season from their couch more than ever before, so teaming up with Postmates as the first official on-demand food delivery partner of the NFL was a perfect combination,” Asamoah said at the time of the NFL partnership announcement. “We’re excited for Postmates to bring an NFL experience directly to our fans’ doorsteps throughout the season and around the year.” Postmates becomes the official on-demand food delivery partner of the NFL The deal marks the first time that the company would deliver t-shirts, hats, caps, and other branded Rams clothing and accessories to an audience. The Rams pop-up is a natural extension of the relationship between the franchise and Postmates, which began earlier in October. As part of the deal there will be 15 different products on sale for men, women, and children priced between $30 and $100, similar to the prices that fans would expect to see from Fanatics’ online shop. Postmates will be delivering to Downtown, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Silverlake, Echo Park, and Los Feliz in Los Angeles. And there’s no delivery fee. As merchandisers bring different kinds of retail experiences to consumers no longer willing to brave a brick and mortar store, expect to see more of these kinds of online-to-offline, on-demand shopping options where stores partner with delivery services to bring the instant gratification customers crave to their doorstep.  

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The long-anticipated IPO of Alibaba-affiliated Chinese fintech giant Ant Group could raise tens of billions of dollars in a dual-listing on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges. Shares for the company formerly known as Ant Financial are expected to price at around HK$80, or roughly 68 to 69 Chinese Yuan. The company is selling around 134 million shares in the Hong Kong portion of its debut, worth around $17.25 billion American dollars at HK$80 apiece. Given that the share sale is expected to raise a similar amount of money from its Shanghai listing, the company’s IPO could raise as much as $34.5 billion. That tally would make the debut the largest in history, besting the recent Aramco IPO that raised around $29.4 billion. Alibaba owns a 33% stake in Ant Group. At its currently expected share price, Ant Group would be worth as much as $310 billion, according to the New York Times, or $313 billion per CNBC. Ant Group’s huge IPO fits its own epic scale. As TechCrunch reported in July, Ant had around 1.3 billion annual active users in March of this year, a number that could have risen in recent quarters. Ant’s Alipay competes with Tencent’s WeChat Pay in the huge and lucrative Chinese market. The Ant Group IPO could be viewed as a moment in which the United States stock markets showed weakness. When Alibaba went public back in 2014, it did so via the New York Stock Exchange. The Chinese tech giant later dual-listed on the Hong Kong exchange. To see Ant Group dual-list on the Hong Kong and Shanghai indices without a float in New York shows what is possible outside of the United States when it comes to capital financing. Fintech startups have broadly seen their fortunes rise during 2020, as the global pandemic changed consumer behaviour and moved more commerce and payments into the digital realm. And IPOs have generally performed strongly as well, meaning that Ant Group could find a few tailwinds for its equity when it begins to trade. Ant has not been content to stick to its knitting, keeping itself busy by investing in other startups. The company took a small stake in installment-payment service Klarna earlier this year, for example. At a valuation of more than $310 billion, Ant Group would be worth about as much as JPMorgan Chase, the most valuable American bank today. It would also best U.S.-based digital payments leader PayPal, which is currently valued at $236 billion, as well as Square, which is valued at $77 billion.

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Kara Nortman has always been dedicated to supporting women in technology and in startups. As one of the founders of the All Raise, the organization dedicated to supporting gender equity in venture capital and technology, a director for Times Up and as the co-founder of the Los Angeles-based expansion women’s soccer team, Angel City, Nortman has been a voice for equality in her professional and personal life. Now with her promotion to co-managing partner at Upfront Ventures, Nortman (and her firm) are taking another big step to advance women in the industry. Her promotion represents what is likely the first time that a large venture capital firm has promoted a woman to the position of co-managing partner. Historically women in the venture capital industry have had to launch their own funds to assume a leadership role in the industry. Norton’s promotion flies in the face of that — likely as a recognition that times have changed and firms need to adapt to a world where entrepreneurs are often choosing to take capital from firms that align with their values as much as their strategic vision. For Upfront’s newest co-managing partner, the path to leadership at a fund with roughly $2 billion in assets under management began with late nights as an associate with Battery Partners in Massachusetts. “I was the 23 year-old at the office reading MassSciTech and Red Herring until 10 at night,” Nortman recalled. “There wasn’t a ton of data to scrape and pull and run algorithms against.” At Battery, Nortman focused on enterprise software before moving over to the corporate world as an executive at Interactive Corp. The Los Angeles native has been a partner at Upfront since 2014 where she’s invested in retail companies like Parachute Home (her first Upfront investment) and more recently in enterprise software companies like OpenRaven and Fleetsmith (which was acquired by Apple in her first big exit as an Upfront partner). “My personal portfolio is about 30% consumer and 70% deeptech enterprise,” said Nortman. “I did all enterprise and infrastructure early in my career at Battery … because that’s all there was. There was no consumer to invest in 1999… Webvan and Pets.com were not good ideas.” At Upfront Nortman will continue to work alongside managing partner, Mark Suster, leading the firm’s fund investment activities. “If I had a dollar for every founder or VC who told me how much they loved Kara I’d have a 10x fund,” Suster said in a statement. “Kara is a natural leader as evidenced by her role as a founding member of All Raise, a board member of TIMES UP and in bringing the women’s professional soccer team, Angel City Football Club, to Los Angeles. Our giving her more leadership inside of Upfront is just a recognition of the role she already plays here.”  Nortman is universally respected in the Los Angeles venture community with several investors saying that the move was an excellent strategic choice for the firm. It’s also (as far as I can tell) a historic one. While there have been amazingly talented and qualified women working in venture capital for decades, few if any were able to assume leadership positions by being promoted from within. Jennifer Fonstadt and Theresia Gouw left DFJ and Accel (respectively) to launch their own fund. And Trae Vassallo, Aileen Lee and Beth Seidenberg all spent time at Kleiner Perkins before striking out on their own to launch independent funds. Nortman said there won’t be any other changes to the partnership whose roster of partners includes Kobie Fuller, Greg Bettinelli, Aditi Maliwal and Michael Carney. Nor will there be any changes to the strategy which has seen the firm invest roughly half of its capital in the greater Los Angeles region with the rest spread across deals in the U.S., Europe and Israel.  Upfront’s success has tracked the broader expansion of the tech ecosystem in Los Angeles with big exits coming from hometown heroes like Ring, TestFlight and Maker Studios along with investments in rising Southern California stars like Bird, Apeel Sciences, and GOAT. For Nortman, who has seen a lot of changes in the industry, the biggest is the need for specialization as firm’s grow. “It used to be that you could just hustle,” Nortman said. “You have to be really disciplined about how you build brands.” Beyond that, there’s a need for investors to be more strategic about picking their investments, because hold periods are longer and the markets companies are tackling are exponentially larger than 20 years ago. “I’m the first board member of almost every company I join. And I may be on the board for ten to 15 years,” Nortman said. “These days you need to be faster to make decisions and build brand but the commitment level is much much longer.”  

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